My name is Ciara Stapleton and I am from Limerick, Ireland. I am a junior here at Salve Regina studying Education for one semester. My home university is Mary Immaculate College. As my semester is coming to an end it seems like August was years ago but at the same time my time here has flown by.
Salve is lucky to be situated on one of the most impressive features of the East coast-the famous Newport Cliff Walk. At the start of the semester it was warm enough to walk on the cliff walk and go to the beach most days after college. Going to college in Mary I in the middle of a city, this was an absolute luxury. The buildings here look out onto the ocean. At home it’s a case of staring into another building.
I am so glad i made the decision to study abroad. Being born and raised in Limerick and attending school and college there i definitely needed to experience living and attending college elsewhere. I wanted to see what college was like away from home. I could have chosen a closer option but i didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to go to college in America. I think I would have regretted not taking the opportunity to go to an American college and only have to pay Irish college fees.
Going to college here is a total different experience to visiting on a holiday or doing a J1 visa. During the summer I lived in a frat house in Berkeley, California on my J1. I thought i had learned the difference, well most of the differences between Irish personalities and American ones but I’m still learning! I even find the East coast very different from the West. There are such different places to visit with very different scenery.
I have visited 4 states; Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York and New Hampshire. The White Mountains in New Hampshire were incredible. Seeing these in the fall is definitely bucket list worthy. Washington D.C. was also on my bucket list but I ran out of time. I’m using this as my excuse to come back as soon as I can.
The workload here in comparison to home is a little heavy. Professors insist on giving homework everyday which took a serious adjusting too. Although most if not all homework assignments are graded which can help bring your grade higher. On the bright side A’s are more achievable here than at home because you have multiple assignments to give you the opportunity to get a good grade. A’s are not easy to get at home. The majority of people are happy with B’s and C’s this is definitely a huge difference to college at home. Lectures at home can be skipped if you’re tactical about it. Here this is not the case. However, lectures are nearly 2 hours long so you may only have 2 a day. I finished a 1 credit course in September that was on in the late evenings. Now, I finish by 3pm everyday so I can’t complain.
I have had the opportunity to teach in American schools which has been incredible. It is so interesting to see the differences between the Irish and American education system. I can take so much valuable knowledge home with me.
Americans are really friendly here especially towards the Irish. I have been lucky enough to be invited to visit some friends houses in different states. They know the ‘ins and outs’ of the main cities so that has been helpful when travelling to new places.
Newport’s not famous for it’s nightclubs but it has plenty of bars to choose from. There is definitely a different nightlife scene in comparison to home. Luckily I am 21 so getting into bars in not an issue. Providence is only 40 minutes away and has some impressive rooftop bars.
In November, my parents came to visit me and took me to see the Boston Celtics play Spurs in TD Garden. This was an all time dream for me. Opportunities like these are once in a lifetime. I could not recommend taking the opportunity to experience studying abroad enough.